HCI Assignment

Games Technology

 

Task 1

 

Human-Computer Interfaces

Ergonomic Design

HCI revolves around how things are created specifically to allow us to interact with machines. Games controllers are ergonomically designed to make the buttons easy to use with the buttons located in convenient spaces. Each controller is designed around the human hand so that it fits well and its comfortable for long periods of use, an example of this is on the Xbox controllers; the Xbox controller has 2 handles, with a smooth under-curve, this enables the player’s hands to perfectly “Fit” the controller making it easy to use. Also all of the buttons on the controller revolve around being reached whilst the hands are on the handles, with each button having a specific finger in the area of it. This ergonomic design allows the user to use the controller easily, effectively and efficiently for long periods of time.

Another type of controller is the keyboard and mouse; this offers a more complex method of data input whilst still having the same ergonomic design as the controllers. Each keyboard is fitted with a variety of keys that cover every letter on the alphabet all within reach of two hands when placed on the keyboard. For example, the user can easily reach the ESC key and the Enter key whilst their hands are centred. As well as the keyboard the mouse is also ergonomically designed, this is because it offers a perfect rest for the h+and, whilst all the buttons are in reach.

 

User-Centred Design

UCD is how the product is designed to fit the potential users. Companies design the products with the users in mind and they alter it to fit their needs or requirements. A good example of UCD is the Nintendo Wii controllers; they designed these knowing that the players will be moving the arms around to interact with the game, so they added the wrist strap. The wrist strap prevents the controller from being dropped or thrown when they make a movement to control something in game. Designs like this are good because they directly look at the user, what they’re doing and then make it safer or more efficient.

 

Button Configurations

When making controllers they have to make sure that the buttons are all in relevant places that are easily reachable from where the controller is held. An example of good button configuration is the Xbox controller, on the right side there are 4 buttons that can all easily be reached by the right hand, on the left is the joystick which can easily be reached by the left hand. This button configuration means that all the buttons can be reached without having to drastically move your hand to reach it. These buttons set ups make the controllers much easier and comfortable to use making the overall experience more enjoyable for the user.
Portability

Controllers and consoles are constantly evolving and bringing out new features, one of the newest features is portability, and games companies found that it was far superior due to the ability for the player to move around wherever they wanted with the controller. A good example of this is the PlayStation and Xbox controller. Both started off with a wired controller and a small cable, limiting how far away it could be, however they then developed a wireless controller. This allows the user to sit further away from the console and screen, adding to the comfort of playing games and giving them more freedom to play how they want to. Another example of wireless controllers is the Nintendo Wii controller, with the player having to move around and wave the controllers around they might pull it out the console if it was plugged in, so Nintendo made them wireless. This made it so they have maximum freedom and don’t need to worry about pulling cables out and damaging the console.
Interface Devices

There are lots of different types of interface devices, with the main ones being keyboard, mouse and controllers, however, there are also more unique ones like the PlayStation Move or the Nintendo Wii remotes. Each device offers a unique way of interacting with the console the keyboard can directly type in information, whereas the Wii remote uses lasers and censors to target and select information on screen. Each controllers purpose it to interact with the game and its interface in one way or another.

 

 

Central Processing Units

Types

There are multiple types of CPU available, with these being Single Core, Duel Core, Quad Core and Hexa Core. The single core processors are the simplest types that you can get. With only having one core they can only do one operation at a time, this means that the performance will greatly lack if more than one operation is attempted

Duel core is simply just two processors instead of one, this means that it is better at multi-tasking compared to the single core CPU, however duel comes with a higher cost than the single core. Duel core is more recent than single core, because of this each core tends to run faster and more efficiently, this makes duel core far superior to the slower, single core processors.

Quad core allows even better multi-tasking due to it having four cores instead of 1 or 2. This will drastically increase the speed of the computer; however, it is a lot more expensive than the single or dual core processors.

 

Speed

The amount of cores in a CPU can greatly affect how fast the CPU is; however, it is mostly down to how many cycles the CPU can perform within a second. The cycles per second is measure in Hertz, one hertz means one cycle is completed. Most modern day CPUs are measure in Ghz. An example is the i7 3770k has 3.5Ghz, 1 Gigahertz means that 1 billion cycles are completed within a second so that means that it has 3.5 billion cycles. Collectively the CPU is made up of a variety of parts from amount of processors, to the clock speed, all these need to work efficiently in coordination for the CPU to work at a fast rate.

Two CPUs that are good to compare are the i7 3770k and the FX 8350. The i7 has 4 cores at 3.5Ghz, whilst the FX 8350 has 8 cores at 4Ghz. Statistically the FX is far superior however most people prefer the i7 because its quality of quantity and runs more efficiently.

 

Cache

One of the most important parts of the CPU is cache. The cache is there to holds a small amount of important memory that the cache might need, it’s there so whenever it needs it, it’s right there. Due to it having the cache with all the important memory it needs it means that it won’t have to search around looking for the memory, this speeds up the whole process. The cache is not a part that the CPU needs to work, this is because the memory can hold the important information, but this will slow it down; because they don’t need the cache sometimes companies cut corners and use bad, slow or small cache storage to save money.

 

Address/Data Bus

The last part of the CPU is the Address/Data Bus. Every single computer has a system bus; the system bus is there to connect all of the parts of the computer together. It has 3 main components, these are control, address and data. The address bus is there to move all of the data between the components, it’s there to help communication between all the parts so they can work together in sync. The data bus also transfers data, however this works within the microprocessors and memory devices.

 

Graphical Processors

Graphics Processors Available

Much like CPU’s there are lots of different types and brands of GPU available, graphics are one of the main aspects of a game, because of this the graphics card is highly important. PCI are one of the main types of graphics cards these are connected to the PCI slots through the motherboard. This is one of the older, original types of graphics card, however a lot of computers still use it. After PCI came the PCI-E, this is the best type available, it is a further developed version of the original PCI. There are greatly improved and multiple can often be connected to the same graphics card. Finally, there is the AGP card, these connect through the AGP slots, much like how the PCI connect through the PCI slots. AGP are a mid-range card, based between the PCI and PCI-E. This is the most widely used card because its mid-range and mid-price.

 

Speeds Available

The speeds are also similar to the CPU; they have use Hertz as a measurement. Similar to CPU the higher the Hz the better the GPU is and overall its better to have more Hz. For example, the GTX 660 has 980 MHz, whereas the newer GTX 1080 has a clock speed of 1607 MHz, this means that the much newer CPU will be a considerable faster.

 

Cache

Again this is similar to the CPU, the cache works similar to the CPU because it holds the important memory that might be required urgently. It comes in 3 different levels, each being different. The first cache is the fasted out of all of them, however it is also the smallest. The second is bigger than the first however it can carry more data. The third level is the largest but also the slowest. With all 3 levels it allows the important data to be stored in the faster smaller data, whilst having less important, larger data stored in level 3.

 

Graphics Memory

 

 

2D/3D Processors.

A GPU has both 2D and 3D processors inside. These processors both handle their own operations, the

 

 

Memory

RAM

RAM stands for random access memory; this is one of the key pieces of hardware within the computer. RAM is temporary, volatile storage that gets removed once the computer turns off or stops running a relevant program. An example of this is when a program is opened then it stores some of its information on the RAM, this memory will on be temporary for example each tab on chrome. When the program needs the memory it can easily locate it and retrieve it and then when the program is close then the RAM gets rid of the temporary memory.
ROM

ROM stand for read only memory. ROM is similar to RAM however it can be written and read, it is built in and cannot be changed. This usually holds information like the operating system and boost instructions. For example, a games disc might be ROM, this is because it will have all the instructions to load and run the game, whilst also the user can write on it so they can save data or information on it like game progress. Also ROM is not volatile so this makes it good for carrying all this important information that needs to be stored properly.

 

 

 

 

Capacity

Memory capacity is how much memory can be stored in a storage device. For example, the average hard drive capacity is 590gb, this is the maximum amount of memory that can be stored. Memory capacity is one of the many system requirements on games, they all have a Memory requirement, this is the minimum amount needed to be able to fully download the game and run it. For example, a game might need 3 GB, this means if they don’t have 3GB space then they will not be able to download it.
Type

There are multiple different types of memory, these are Hard Disk, RAM, Flash Memory, Tape Drives etc. This is the main type of memory that every computer has to store all of their permanent data, it is non-volatile. Hard drives can both have data written to them and deleted from them. For example, if you wanted to download a game then it could be downloaded to the hard drive and the data would not be lost once the computer is turned off. This means that people can safely store their data and not worry about losing it.

 

 

Displays

Built-In

Built-In display are simply normal displays that are actually inside a machine. An example of this is with the PSP. The PSP has a display in the middle of the screen, this cannot be removed or changed. The in-built display is good for portability and handheld devices because it means you don’t have to connect it to an external display which takes up extra room.
External

The external is the opposite of inbuilt display, it can freely be moved around and is not connected specifically to a device. This allows the user to easily changed monitor or display, so for example they could connect an Xbox to a large TV to watch TV shows, and then connect it to a smaller 144hz monitor to play video games. This allows them to connect it to whatever they need to depending on the situation.
Liquid Crystal

Liquid Crystal Display also known as LCD is one of the most widely used types of displays. They are called liquid crystal because within the display there is a liquid type material that changes when connected with an electrical current, this is why they are used in LCD displays. For example, the display will be full of the liquid like material, when connected with an electrical current it will change its properties and currents turning into different colours.

 

Colour

Colour displays transmit light to create a coloured display. Like normal colour pallets they use a selection from three colours which are red, green and blue. From these three colours you can make almost every colour needed to colour a display. So for example if a colour is needed then it will use a mixture or red, green and blue colours to create it and display it on the screen. Mixing the colours this way allows many types of colour variant’s to be displayed all at the same time.
Monochrome

Monochrome was used in a lot of the older type of display, this is because they only have one colour available to write in and the other colour for the background. For example, the BIOS only uses 2 times of colours, this is how a monochrome display would look. This is a very simple type of display and isn’t used anymore as most displays are colour or LCD.

 

 

 

 

Sound

Sound Cards

Sound cards are one of the components in the computer which allows it to create and play sound, the sound can then be heard through speakers or headphones. There are many different types of sound cards available, all with their own features. For example, some sound cards come included with full 3D surround sound, allowing the user to have a more immersive experience. These features make each sound card unique and make them appeal to certain audiences.

 

Audio Processors

An audio processor is something that receives, decodes and then processes different types of audio. The processor alters the audio signals and can add affects to them. One example of something it can do is it can receive a digital wave and translate it to an analogue signal. This allows different types of signals to be received, edited and used in a project.

 

Channels

A sound card has multiple channels available to use, each of these can process and output different types of sounds all at the same time. It does this by making each channel separate and independent so that all the sounds can be changed at the same time. An example of this is one sound channel can be used to edit a voice whilst another can be rendering a sound effects.

 

Memory

Sounds also needs memory when it’s being stored on a computer, much like an image or video. This works by converting the original sound and turning it into numbers, this is also known as analogue to digital conversion. When the file is converted into a digital format, it can be stored and played by the computer.

 

 

Game Storage Mediums

Standard

A storage system is something used to hold memory; it can either be volatile or non-volatile. Non-Volatile storage is permanent storage, for example, this could be a normal hard drive. This type of storage is used to keep data for long periods, until it is deleted or re-written. Volatile memory is temporary storage that will be deleted when the current program ends. This is used to store things like temporary data for games.

 

Flash Memory

Flash memory is an external type of data storage, it can easily be plugged in, unplugged and is also portable. This is one of the best ways to transport data, this is because they’re small, portable and fast and transferring data. However one of the downsides of flash data is limited storage, due to them being so small they can only store a limited amount, unlike HDDs which can store a much larger amount of data. An example of flash memory is a USB stick; it has a small flash card, which is connected to an USB stick that can connect to most computers. This is a good way to store data because it can easily be plugged into many different devices which have USB ports and then they data can be carried round with the user.

 

DVD

DVD is one of the most widely used ways of storing data, this is because of its portability. DVD stands for digital versatile disc. Almost every game comes out on a hard copy which is stored on a disc, this is because consoles and computers both have disc trays which can run them. Game developers chose DVD over flash memory like USB sticks because of how cheap they were to make, and also how you couldn’t write over them.
Optical Disc

Both CDs and DVDs are types of optical disc, they both have the same format and are read by disc readers. Almost every console or computer has a disc reader on meaning many people can use them. One of the advantages is that they’re very cheap to manufacture and that’s why they’re only of the most popular storage devices. One of the disadvantages to them is that they are easily scratched and damaged.

 

UMD

Universal media disc, is a smaller version of a DVD, these are often used to store small things. One example of something that uses a UMD is the PSP; this is because it fits in the small console. One advantage of it is that they’re light weight and can carry up to 2GB this makes it perfect for storing small portable games for games consoles. One disadvantage is that if it goes above this data limit then they will have to cut out sections of the game, or include 2 discs.
Internal storage is simply where the storage is inside the system itself. For example on the Nintendo 3DS you can download and store games on the internal console itself, usually the internal storage is some form of hard drive. One advantage to this is that it means you dont have to carry games around with you, however a disadvantage is that when it becomes full you can’t just change the disc for another one.
The final type of storage is magnetic tape. Magnetic tape is mostly used for film and TV shows. They are used by writing over the film that’s in there and then you can play it back. One of the advantages of this is you can recycle the same one, however often the film would become tangled and damaged.

 

 

Interface Devices

Joystick

The interface can be interacted with by numerous different unique devices, with one of these being the joystick. The joystick is a stick on a pivot ball that can rotate around in different directions and angles. An example of how this would be used is in flight simulator games; the joystick directly mimics that of a pilot’s joystick so it gives a realistic effect and adds immersion for the player.
Keyboard

Keyboard is one of the best all round interface devices and that is unlikely to change. With a button for almost every function, it allows the most accuracy whilst interacting with the interface. For example, it makes everything easy because every action has a relevant button, like when the user wants to search for something they can easily just type it in and press enter. This makes it easy to use and quicker than most things like controllers, which have to select each button separately.

 

Controller Ports

Ports are usually a USB; this is because they’re the most widely used connectors and everything from consoles to computers has them. For example, the Xbox controllers connect through the USB so you can use it on a computer as well as the Xbox. This allows for multi-purpose controllers and players won’t have to spend extra money for a controller that works on computers.

 

Analogue and Digital Devices

Analogue and digital are 2 different signal types in technology and sound. When an analogue sound is put into a computer it has to convert it into digital. This is because digital is what the computer reads and understands. Once its converted into digital the computer can then read it. For example if someone adds a sound effect into a computer it will automatically convert to digital because that’s how its stored and played.

 

Wired and Wireless Devices

As the gaming world develops, more devices are becoming wireless, whereas the older original devices were all wired. They both have pros and cons. One advantage of wired is it gives a better response time; this is because it doesn’t have to transmit data through a signal when entering information via a controller or keyboard. An advantage of wireless is that the user is free to move aroundw wherever they want with eh controller or keyboard and interact that way.

 

 

Connection

Stand Alone

Stand alone is where a device works by itself without the need of external hardware being connected to it. For example, most TV sets are standalone, you connect them to the TV and they don’t need anything else to receive signals and channels. This keeps it simple for the user and means they don’t have to buy extra equipment to get their device working.

 

Controller Ports

Controller ports are simple where a controller was connected to, these are rarely used anymore as most controllers are either wireless or use a USB and wire to connect to the console or computer.

 

LAN

LAN stands for local area network. This means that within a small radius everything can be connected to it, whether this be a LAN for internet or telephones. An example of how this is used is in small offices, the whole office can connect to a LAN and this will mean they can share peripherals like printers, files scanners etc. This is good because it allows everyone to be connected and have instant access to things whenever they need it.
WAN

WAN stands for wide area network. WAN is made by connecting multiple different LANs and sharing the connectivity of all of them. This works the same as LAN because it enables sharing of things like peripherals and files; however, it shares them over a wider area.

 

 

Power Supply

Internal Batteries

Internal batteries are batteries, which are inside of the device, usually these devices are portable. The batteries either have to be recharged or replaced once they run out because they’re not directly connected to a power source. An example of an internal battery is the Nintendo DS, it has a battery inside and when the power is low, it has to be connected via the charger to recharge the battery. Internal batteries are good because it allows the device to be wireless, which makes it portable and the user can carry it with them wherever they go.

 

External Sources

External power supplies are usually connected directly to the main power and the console, this means they don’t have to be connected as they constantly have power, however they don’t work without the external source. An example of this is the Xbox power pack, this connects directly to the main power and works as a middle man for the Xbox. The Xbox cannot be un-plugged from it or it will turn off.


Task 2

 

Platform Dependency

Platform dependency is where a game only works on one type of console. For example The Last of Us game are only available on PlayStation, this means they’re “Dependant” on it being a PlayStation.

 

Independent

Independent is where a game is on multiple different types of platforms throughout, the developers will create the game to be the same on each platform with similar controls so that each platform is the same. An example of a game that is independent is Call of Duty; this is because it is available on almost every console with all of the same features and similar controls. This is a good way to release a game because it enables people with any console to buy it and experience it, unlike dependant where someone might have to buy a totally separate console just to play one game, overall this greatly increases the amount of players that play the game.

 

Dependant

When a game is dependent on a platform it means that it is only developed and created with one platform in mind. This usually means that it will have specific actions designed around the controller and buttons. For example, the Mii Sports game is only developed for the Nintendo Wii, this is because it is directly developed for that controller and the movement sensors that come with it. Platform dependant games usually are dependant for a reason, and that’s that they work best on that console with that controller. The developers don’t allow it to be ported to other consoles because the quality might not be up to their standards, or the controls might not be good enough on the new platforms controller.

 

 

Operating Systems

PC/Macintosh

The operating system is one of the most important software for a computer to have, it affects everything visually. The operating system manages everything for the computer, including the users, hardware and the other software; whilst controlling every visual aspect, it acts as an interface for the user.  For example, the operating system will handle all of the computers independent users and profiles. This allows the computer to be organised and for all of it to be correctly organised.

 

Windows

Windows is one of the most widely used, universal operating systems there is, it is active on almost every computer. The reason for windows popularity is because of its simplicity and ease of use, whilst also having a nice aesthetic to it. Currently the newest version of windows is Windows 10, however a large part of the people who use windows still prefer to use Windows 7 and 8, this is because it’s what they’re used to and what they prefer, even though the new Windows 10 might perform better.

 

Linux

Linux is one of the small types of operating system however it is still widely known. Linux is currently free for anyone to download, and it can easily be edited by the user and customised to their liking. Most people prefer to use windows over Linux because it’s a complete package that is fully functional and reliable, however Linux is for more experience users that need an operating system for a specific reason. An example of why people prefer Windows over Linux is because Linux cannot run a lot of software. Lots of software is specifically designed for Windows, meaning that it is dependent on that and cannot be ran on a different operating system, this means that lots of games cannot be played on Linux.

 

Symbian OS/Brew

Symbian OS is the main operating system for Nokia, it’s an open source operating system that can be edited by anyone, because of this more experience users tend to buy Nokia phones with it on.

Brew is a platform that is good at multi-tasking. It is mostly available on are high-end, top of the range phones. One of Brews main features is that it is easy to port software over to it, this enables people to easily transfer applications and games over to it without much effort, making it a highly customisable operating system with endless features.

 

 

Drivers

Graphic Drivers

This driver is specifically for the graphics side of the computer, this works by translating graphical data within the computer, the drivers are there to keep updating the graphics and to keep them looking as good as they’re supposed to. For example, in a game then the graphics drivers will handle everything like textures and anti-aliasing within the game. Having a better graphics card and updated drivers will keep the game looking clear and crisp making the gaming experience more enjoyable.

 

Sound Drivers

Similar to the graphics drivers the sound drivers are there to keep all the sounds full functioning and sound like they’re supposed to. The sound drivers work by translating the sound into a numeric value that can then be stored and read by the computer. For example the sound driver will change the sounds into a form that can be understood and then the computer can play these sounds in a game whenever necessary. This allows games to have many different types of sounds that the computer can understand.

 

Network Interface Controllers

This is the device which connects to the internet and controls all the networking of the computer. This allows the computer to connect to the internet and receive things like updates, downloads etc. For example with this they user can receive constant updates on programs like steam to update their game. This driver is one of the most important ones because without the user wouldn’t be able to access the internet, update software or download games.

 

 

Application Software

Interpreted Languages

Interpreted language is where the instructions are directly executed without any need for comping or changing into machine code. The interpreter just executes the code without changing anything to do with it. For example nothing in it will be changed into the machine code, the interpreter will just execute it straight away.

 

Compiled Languages

Compiled is the opposite of interpreted languages. Compiled is where the code already exists and it is compiled to repeat something. For example, the code already exists but it needs to be compiled so that it can be found.

 

Object Oriented

Object orientated is where everything is grouped up together as objects, this means that it is all easy to understand and read.  Each group will have it’s own purpose, for example, one group could control the AI, and another the interface. This allows it all to be properly organised and if something isn’t full functional it is easy to find that group and edit it.

 

Scripted

Scripting is where multiple different parts are combined to make a “Script”. For example in Unreal engine they will drag in multiple “blocks” and these will make up a script, this script is then read and translated into a functional task which the computer will complete. This allows for everything to be neatly organised and visually better when coding making it easier for the programmers.

 

 

Graphical API

An API is just an interface which allows the user to build software applications.

 

OpenGL

OpenGL is one of the best graphical APIs’. This is because users can create high quality graphics easily within its application, this is because it is designed specifically for it and it can render both 2D and 3D graphics.

 

ActionScript

ActionScript what specifically designed for animating websites, it uses flash player and is designed to control moving elements on a website. For example if someone wanted their website to having animated words moving around their screen then they would use ActionScript. This allows for the creation of unique and original websites by using animations and actions.

 

JavaScript

JavaScript is similar to ActionScript; it is a programming language that is used to make interactive websites with effects.

 

 

Sound API

Open AL

This is the same as the graphics version; it allows the users to create high quality sounds within its applications. It is the same as the OpenGL but instead of focusing on HD graphics, it focuses on HD sounds.
Java Sound API

This is one of the most common sound APIs, it is a  program that allows the user to control he audios settings and customise it to what they need, for example if they want to lower background sound and raise another sound then they can. This gives it a good level of customisability.

 

 

Television

Conditional Access

Conditional TV is where you can only view certain channels if a condition is met. For example on BT if you have BT Sports then it allows you to view all of the sports channels, without BT sports you can only watch the default channels. This is good because it makes BT TV cheaper for everyone who doesn’t want the packages, and then if they do want them they can pay the extra cost, instead of everyone paying for lots of channels they don’t need.

 

Interactive TV

This is where the TV can be interacted with by either using the remote or a controller. This is done by pressing certain buttons on the remote to play a game or vote on something. For example on some TV shows like games shows the user can play along at home by pressing buttons that coincide with the relevant answer. This allows a greater amount of user interaction and adds interest to the TV show.

 

Enhanced TV

Enhanced TV is a better, improved version of regular TV. For example the ability to pause TV shows, record them and then watch them later; also programs like Netflix that allow you to stream a variety of TV shows whenever you want to. These all give TV an improved experience allowing the users to watch what they want, when they want.

These have all greatly changed TV because of the customisability, from being able to directly interact with a show to being able to watch what they want, when they want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

http://harrydawsonunit20task2and3.weebly.com/human-computer-interface.html

Information used throughout

http://www.eteknix.com/average-hard-drive-size-is-now-590gb/

Hard drive information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_signal_processing

Audio signal information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_Runtime_Environment_for_Wireless

BREW information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpreted_language

Interpreted language information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ActionScript

ActionScript information

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Learn/JavaScript/First_steps/What_is_JavaScript

JavaScript information

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